The role of snacks in a healthy diet has been intensely debated. Some argue that snacks are essential for a healthy diet as eating regularly helps manage circulating blood sugar levels and keeps your metabolism working, and therefore your metabolic rate working consistently and effectively. But others say that consumption of snacks can lead to weight gain, if excessive amounts of empty-calorie snacks are consumed.
Snacking can be extremely beneficial for weight loss, if done correctly. Snacking only acts as a barrier to weight loss when the foods chosen have been high in sugar, highly processed, high in calories, and lacking in nutrients. The main reason for snacking is to prevent us from reaching a starvation state, so when we get to our main meals, we do not over eat. When our main meals are more than five hours apart, a snack is necessary. When it comes to healthy snacking when trying to lose weight, we need to take into consideration the content of what we are consuming and how much we are eating.
Snacks high in fibre and protein and low in calories are what we should be eating. So next time you get that 3pm hitch and reach for your secret stash of chocolate, consider these seven tips for snacking when trying to lose weight.
- Choose a snack with about 100-150 calories and high in protein. Our main meals should contain lean protein, whole grains, healthy fats and vegetables, and should average about 300-400 calories, while snacks should be half the amount of calories as our main meals.
- Make sure you are snacking because you are indeed hungry, and you are not snacking out of habit. Being bored and stressed are the main emotional reasons why we may raid the cupboard at 3pm. If you need a break from your computer screen try non-caloric options first such as a cup of green tea or going for a short walk instead.
- Limit bad ingredients by checking the ingredients list of the food. Make sure you know what all the ingredients listed actually are. Remember, the fewer ingredients, the healthier it is.
- Be conscious of what and when you are eating. Eat while sitting down but try not to eat in the car or in front of the television for example, as this can lead to, what is known as “eating amnesia,” not realising what we are eating and therefore leading to overeating and weight gain.
- Timing is essential. Aim to eat your snacks at the halfway point between your main meals; this will help keep your energy levels consistent.
- Nutritionally balanced snacks are just as important as low calorie snacks when it comes to weight loss. Low sugar, and high fibre and high protein snacks are key to success.
- Plan your snacks. Prepare a healthy snack the night before, and have them packed and ready to take to work. This will prevent last minute purchases of high sugar foods as the only alternative.
Snack ideas that are high in fibre and protein, low in sugar, and less than 150 calories:
Some very affordable, and easy ideas are the following:
Easy and delicious, convenient, shelf-stable package. Try mixing your nuts with dried fruit for some added sweetness. Here is about 8grams of protein per serving.
Hard-Boiled Eggs are inexpensive and loaded with nutrients. There is 6grams of protein per egg.
Cut up some of your favourite veggis and plate up some hummus.
2 Tbsp hummus has 2.5 of protein
Lentils are great protein-packed legumes. Shelf-stable, convenient foods. One cup has a whopping 22 grams of protein.
Peanut butter and celery
Who doesn’t love peanut butter? There is 4.0g of protein per one tablespoon of peanut butter
Some perfect snack ideas from Bulk Nutrients are:
Beef Protein Isolate – only 485kj per serve
Whey Protein Isolate – only 272kj per serve
Clean Island Jerky – Original – only 695kj per serve
Thermowhey – only 439.4kj per serve
Whey Hot – only 469kj per serve